Columbia Water Center director Upmanu Lall suggests that we see the Oroville crisis as a call to action to evaluate and address the challenges facing the nation’s dam infrastructure.
An all-purpose guide for journalists covering disasters, natural and manmade.
The final phase of our revolves around visiting chars, sandy river islands, on the Ganges and Brahmaputra River. Chris and Dan are making measurements of soil salinity and moisture and spectra of the soil reflectance, while Liz and I collected samples for OSL dating and understanding the OSL properties of the river sediments here. This entails a mixture of driving around the country and spending time on small country boats and walking around the chars.
After helping Chris an Dan with soil salinity and reflectance measurement, Humayun, Liz and I moved onto the smaller M.B. Mewl to sail through the Sundarban Mangrove Forest to service our GPS station at Hiron Point.
Humayun, Liz and I headed to Khulna in SW Bangladesh a day after Chris and Dan. Along the way, we stopped at our sediment compaction meter for surveying and removing the GPS, and getting feasted by the family that hosts the system.
I’m back in Bangladesh with a small team after a year and a half away. One different is a police escort as a result of the attacks last year. We start by successfully sampling river sediments to correct the date of an earthquake that caused a river to shift over 3,500 years ago. We also will be fixing broken equipment, visiting the ever changing rivers and hopefully meeting with the public and government officials about the earthquake hazard.
In a paper published in the journal Science, researchers looked at increasing trends in the severity of tornado outbreaks, measured by the number of tornadoes per outbreak. They found that these trends are increasing fastest for the most extreme outbreaks.
Across the nation, large-scale water infrastructure such as dams have provided a multitude of services, from electric power and water reservoirs to flood control and containment of pollution. But federal investments in large water infrastructure projects have largely been curtailed over the past few decades.
The need to adapt to the current impact of climate change is already obvious in many cities and work is already underway to make cities more resilient to extreme weather events. New York City has begun to implement a resiliency plan that will cost at least $20 billion over the next decade.
The fundamental job of government is to provide security and safety for its people. Natural disasters may be predictable to some degree, but they are unavoidable. What is avoidable is the sense of economic hopelessness that follows these events.